With the weather warming up, and people ready to head outside this spring, the Saskatchewan Government wants to remind residents to watch out for ticks.
Ticks are most often found in tall grass, brush, or wooded areas. Ticks cannot jump or fly but will grasp onto people or pets who brush up against them.
"People should be vigilant and check for ticks on themselves, their children and their pets after being outside," Saskatchewan Chief Deputy Medical Health Officer Dr. Julie Kryzanowski said. "Taking precautions against ticks is the best way to reduce the risk of a tick bite."
The Government offered some ways to prevent tick bites:
- Wear light-coloured clothes so ticks can be easily seen.
- Wear pants, long-sleeved shirts, and shoes that do not expose your bare feet.
- Pull socks over your pant legs to prevent ticks from crawling up your legs.
- Use insect repellents that contain DEET or Icaridin. Apply repellent to clothes as well as your skin. Always read and follow the directions on the label. Some repellents may have age restrictions.
- In Canada, clothing that has been treated with the insecticide permethrin has been approved for use by people over the age of 16.
- Shower or bathe as soon as possible after being outside to wash off loose ticks and inspect for attached ticks.
It also offered tips on how to remove ticks:
- Carefully remove it with fine-tipped tweezers and grasp the tick's mouthparts as close to the skin as possible.
- Pull slowly upward and out with firm, steady pressure.
- Be careful not to squeeze, crush or puncture the body after removal.
- Do not put Vaseline, gasoline, or other harmful substances on an attached tick.
- Submit photos of the tick using the eTick system, and please keep ticks in a secure container until you receive the identification results. Ticks can be euthanized by placing them in a bag and storing it in the freezer for 24 hours.
The Saskatchewan Government states most ticks found within the province are the American dog tick, which is active from mid-April to the end of July and cannot transmit Lyme disease to people.
The risk of exposure to Lyme disease is very low in Saskatchewan, stated the government.
Blacklegged ticks, which can cause Lyme disease, are rare in Saskatchewan, though they can be introduced through birds in early spring and remain active throughout fall.
The Government of Saskatchewan has an application in which users can send pictures of ticks found on humans or animals through the eTick online system. The submission can tell users the type of tick, and information on the risk of exposure to tick-borne diseases.
While waiting for results, the Government of Saskatchewan asks ticks be secured in a container. eTick administrators may request that some ticks be submitted, by mail, for quality control purposes or if the tick species is one of medical concern. Ticks should not be submitted by mail unless requested.
In 2021, 969 ticks were identified in Saskatchewan, and only 15 were blacklegged ticks, states the Government. Nine of the ticks were submitted for testing; none of which tested positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.